April 15 Devotional
There are many passages in God’s Word about the power of the tongue. The power that our words can have to impact those around us. For the most part, many of these passages speak about the dangers of things like gossip, slander, and evil speech. The book of James, for example, speaks of the tongue as something that cannot be tamed, that it is duplicitous offering both blessing and cursing, a spark that is able to set a whole forest ablaze, and a rudder that, though small, controls the direction of the entire ship. Jesus talks about the tongue as well when speaking about the fact that it is what comes out of a person’s mouth that makes them unclean because out of the heart the mouth speaks. These are all sobering warnings that we should be sure to take to heart.
There are, however, passages that also speak of the power of our words to encourage and uplift one another during difficult times. The warnings that we should be on guard with what we speak should not lead us to the conclusion that all words are evil or that we should just keep our mouth shut at all times. Perhaps we need to be reminded of the words of the great philosopher Thumper from the movie “Bambi” when he reminded us that “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” But, when we look at Proverbs 12, we see that there is power in a positive and encouraging word to a brother or sister in need.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25
There are times when we will be anxious about our circumstances. Maybe it is our health, the health of a loved one, our finances, uncertainty about the future, or any of the other things that many people have experienced anxiety about in the last several weeks. Mostly, we want to have the peace of God in our circumstances, that peace that passes understanding. The source of that peace is the Holy Spirit. But the mode of that peace can sometimes be the simple and encouraging words of a brother or sister in the Lord. Have you ever had a moment when the weight of whatever you were carrying was oppressive and you didn’t know if you could continue on? Then, someone you know offers you a word of encouragement and you feel at least a portion of that weight lift. It doesn’t really seem as if it should be that simple. It is amazing how the Lord consistently uses those simple things and simple acts of love among each other to lift us up.
Now I will say that this is not referring to saying something trite, or obvious, or cliché simply to have something to say. Those moments can carry an anxious person in the opposite direction. Sometimes, what a person needs is someone to say something as simple as “if you want to talk I’m available” or “I don’t know what you are going through but I will be praying for you” or the ever simple “no matter what happens, know that I love you.” These are extremely simple, but extremely powerful statements when used by the Holy Spirit to show the love that you have for a brother or sister in need. This passage in Proverbs just says a “good word.” Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to have the answer to a person’s problem in order for the Lord to use you as an encouragement to their heart. Just offer a simple word of encouragement that comes from a place of love for that person.
We are in the middle of a situation where there are many people who are feeling weighed down by anxiety. We have a privilege and a responsibility to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are struggling and offer them a word of simple encouragement. We don’t need to have the answer, we are not trying to offer a false hope, but we can point them to the One who is our real hope in times of anxiety. The One who has offered to share in the carrying of our burdens. The only One who is able to lift the weight of anxiety in a person’s heart. So write an email, make a phone call, send a card to someone to let them know you care about them, and point them to the One who is in control of all our circumstances no matter how out of control they may seem. He is the Lord. That is the good word spoken of in Proverbs 12 and He is the One who can carry our burdens and lift the weight of anxiety to make our hearts glad.